The Defence Research and Development Canada and Colt Canada have pulled back the curtains on their prototypes Soldier Integrated Precision Effects Systems project rifle, a weapon drawn out of science fiction.
The bullpup weapon system has been in development since 2009 as a part of Canada’s Small Arms Modernization project and is the first step of several in the Future Small Arms Research project.
It’s a flexible design intended to pair a 5.56-caliber main rifle with a support weapon, either a 40mm grenade launcher or a 12-gauge shotgun, all while weighing less than a standard infantry rifle or carbine equipped with a grenade launcher.
By pairing the rifle with either a shotgun or grenade launcher, the new weapon system can be tailored for missions anywhere in the world, from urban environments, desert landscapes, mountain conflicts and even to arctic warfare.
“In the medium term, this weapon concept represents a lethal, flexible general-purpose platform,” said the Canadian Army’s Lt. Col. Serge Lapointe, director land requirements, in a DRDC announcement. “It will be able to operate in all theatres of operations in the most complex terrain including urban areas, mountains, jungles, deserts and the Arctic.”
The new rifle system stands out not just for its modern bullpup configuration but also its less visible features. The rifle uses lightweight cased, telescoped ammo that sleeves each round with plastic and doesn’t require brass cases — the ammo itself is part of the cut weight, reducing the burden on soldiers’ backs.
And the rail system is also powered for electronic accessories. The Future Small Arms Research project will work to develop the electronic components of the weapon system, like computer-assisted optics and weapon position tracking systems.
This will let squad leaders and commander know where their troops are and potentially see what they see, if the FSAR optics tech anything like the technology used in TrackingPoint’s Precision Guided Rifle military optics.
Another function of the powered rail system is to provide a single power supply for any accessories that require power to function. This eliminates the need for multiple batteries running any electronic devices including optics and aiming devices.
The SIPES rifle system is still in a period of evaluation and the final product may be quite different from what we see today, especially with the current development speed of electronic optics. The weapon system being test-fired in the video shows wide use of rapid-prototype construction including 3D-printed components.
The reason the prototype is not man-fireable is because it may not be physically safe to handle at this early stage of design. Still, it paints a picture of a different type of rifle system, something that until recently, has only existed in fiction.